The HomeExchange Revolution and Preparing Your Kids for Travel Success
Jennifer Allen, the writer behind Wonders Within Reach, a travel blog for families with disabilities, and a mother of three, offers valuable insights and tips on successful HomeExchange experiences with kids.
HomeExchange has revolutionized the way we travel. We’re able to travel more, and we have more fun along the way. HomeExchange is our go-to option, as it should be for all travel-loving families.
HomeExchange is also unique from any other way of travel in the way that we connect with the travel community through sharing our homes. Even adults aren’t always great at sharing, so it makes sense that prepping your kids ahead of time is essential to ensure a successful experience for both the hosting and the hosted sides. Like in many areas of parenting, and life, uncommunicated expectations are unmet expectations. With a little prep, however, HomeExchange will be the foundation for lasting memories.
HomeExchange: A Kid-Friendly Choice
There is no other way to travel that fully delivers the home-away-from-home feeling. More than just separate bedrooms for the kids, two bathrooms, and a kitchen to prepare meals - we’re put into a home that’s pre-filled with the warmth and love of family. From games and toys, to kid dishes and bathroom stools, there are endless small comforts of home.
On top of home comforts, you still have the vacation aspect of new and exciting. The stash of toys in each “new room” creates a sense of novelty and excitement. It's like a mini-Christmas each time you exchange! Trampolines, playhouses, swing sets, and new backyards for hide and seek are the stuff kid adventures are made of.
Prepping Your Kids for HomeExchange Success
The perks of a home-away-from home come with the responsibilities home. Unlike a hotel, where it may be a kid's prerogative to jump on the beds and run while, this adventure is taking place in someone else’s space. Kids can respect that, especially with the perspective that someone else is in their space, but they need that reminder. Here are some things you’ll want to cover with your kids before your exchange:
Before Leaving Home
- Have them help clean up for your guests. It’s a good reminder that someone is also cleaning up for their visit.
- Sharing is great, but it’s ok to put away special toys. Make sure your kids think about things that they may want to store while they’re away, while still being gracious to any kids coming to visit.
- Allow them to be a part of creating your HomeExchange house rules. If there’s a LEGO set that shouldn’t be taken apart, or something fragile that’s too big to put away, explain that to your guests.
- Help them to understand the golden rule of HomeExchange by considering how they want to experience the new room they’re visiting. It may be a good time to clean up the booger collection under the bed.
- Let the kids leave a card, or design the map of your neighborhood. It’s a great way to keep them involved, while teaching hospitality.
In Someone Else’s Home
- Teach your kids the importance of taking care of other people's belongings, just as you would want them to care for yours.
- Put things away where you found them, because they may be special to someone who’s going to look for them when they get home.
- If a game, toy, or puzzle is new to you, it’s a good idea to play with one thing at a time so you don’t confuse pieces.
- Familiarize your kids with any house rules set by your hosts. This may include guidelines on using appliances, pet care, or noise restrictions. Ensuring your kids understand and follow these rules is crucial to maintain a good relationship with your hosts.
- Maintain your own home rules… and maybe even add some more. If it’s not ok at home, it’s not ok in someone else’s home. We’re actually a little more strict in a HomeExchange than at home. No climbing over furniture or jumping on beds, even though we’re more laid back with our own furniture.
- If your children aren’t used to pets, start with supervised introductions and interactions. Kids are kids and animals are animals - it’s important that they can become comfortable with each other with the safety of a parent nearby.
- Consider making a card or thank you note for your hosts. This is a sweet gesture and it teaches gratitude.
Your kids are going to have a blast staying through HomeExchange, no matter how you do it, but these conversations will make the journey less stressful for parents. By prepping your kids ahead of time and instilling a sense of responsibility, you can ensure a successful experience for both your family and your hosts. Pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and let HomeExchange be your gateway to unforgettable family memories!